What causes politicians to endorse or oppose the curtailing of civil liberties in the fight against terrorism? Read our paper “Contesting counter-terrorism: discourse networks and the politicisation of counter-terrorism in Austria” in @JIRD_jour:
Argument: We argue that Counter-terrorism legislation is not the outcome of an objective analysis of externally induced threats and responses to these threats, but the product of three interdependent variables:
(a) a sense of ownership by those responsible for fighting terrorism; (b) a green/alternative/libertarian (GAL) vs. traditional/authoritarian/nationalist (TAN) orientation; and (c) the anticipated political gains by party leaders of supporting/opposing certain legislation.
Design: For this exploratory study, we use the case of the Austrian debate on the implementation of several surveillance and other counter-terrorism measures and apply Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalition Framework, and @PhilipLeifeld Discourse Network Analysis to answer our RQ.
Results: The failure to pass a new law on data retention (#Vorratsdatenspeicherung) in Austria was caused by the ideological orientation, the lack of ownership, and the anticipated political gains/losses of critics, and not by an informed discussion of objective threats and need.
Take away: Politics does not stop at the “water’s edge” when it comes to counter-terrorism. This policy field is highly politicised and contested. The adoption of (or the failure to pass) counter-terrorism legislation is a function of ownership, ideology and political gains.
Thanks to everyone who supported us with their valuable comments, esp. @JIRD_jour reviewers, @ECPR general conference discussants, David Rowe and Alan Draper , our colleagues at the Deparment of Political Science, and University of Innsbruck and Land Tirol for funding our project.